- Panel at South by Southwest Interactive with (L-R) Mazy Kazerooni of Tracks.by; Korey Coleman of Spill.com; and Ron A. Harrison of Blazetrak
I went to SXSW Interactive with an eye on what people were saying about music apps and technology. I had already heard of Blazetrak, but while there I had the opportunity catch Blazetrak co-founder, Ron Harrison (@ron_a_harrison) on a panel. I was intrigued with their idea of making Blazetrak a portal for aspiring musicians, singers, and performers to directly connect with established producers and industry professionals.
Founded in November 2009, Blazetrak used the last two years as a beta period in which they shored up their proprietary technology and relationships with industry talent. To date they’ve received over 10,000 submissions from aspiring artists who pay to receive direct video responses from Blazetrak clients such as T.I., Andre Harrell, Bryan Michael Cox, and Matthew Knowles.
Blazetrak just launched its new site last week and is now open for all. In the midst of the relaunch, Ron Harrison took some time to talk with me about where Blazetrak is and where it is headed.
What is the story of Blazetrak?
My co-founder was working with a small label in Atlanta where they were receiving lots of demos. He would complain about the amount of stuff they were getting in. As a deterrent they would charge a fee in order to submit a demo to them [the label] in exchange for having someone from the label give that person a call to talk about whatever the person had submitted. What happened was that they started getting more submissions and demos than they did when it was free. So a light bulb went off that showed that us that people are willing to pay because they know that they’re going to get some type of feedback. So we can up with an idea, “What if we set it up where we had really highly successful people in the industry offer that feedback.” So my brother, Rich Harrison, has had a pretty successful career producing for artists like Beyonce, Usher and others, and I saw how difficult it was for him to reach that level of success. But once he made it, I saw the huge amount of aspiring artists trying to reach out to him. So we combined those two experiences and thought, “If we can build these connections between new artists and successful producers like Rich, Rodney Jerkins, Bryan Michael Cox, and other highly successful people in the industry, will this work?” That’s basically how Blazetrak was born.
How do you see Blazetrak fitting in with current changes in the industry?
I think that Blazetrak has the ability to become the new portal for access. Everyone is talking about the industry and that it is all about who you know. People say that, “You have to know the right people and be in the right circles in order to get stuff done.” Blazetrak is completely trying to change that and make it so that it has nothing to do with who you know and where you live, it is all about your talent. If you have talent and have access to people who can help you cultivate that talent, then why shouldn’t you be given a chance. That’s where Blazetrak comes into play – because we allow you to have that access with all these highly successful people in music. And it also works for the producers because now they have access to talent from around the world. You can log into your Blazetrak account and you’ll have submissions from all over the world. Some of the first submissions that we got are international.
There are other platforms that aspiring artists use to try to get attention of industry executives – most notably youtube – how does Blazetrak differentiate itself from other platforms like those?
Right. There are plenty of platforms like that. youtube is great. You upload your stuff and the world has access to it. That doesn’t mean that the person that you need to see your youtube video is actually going to see it. There are probably several hundred million videos on youtube and you put your stuff out there just hoping that the right person is going to see it. On Blazetrak, you decide who you want to see your videos. So right now we have about 400 professionals, but you decide who you want to see it. We take all kinds of submissions, videos, audio, and pictures.
You’re a tech company –without technology it’s impossible for a site like Blazetrak to exist. I’m sure there’s a whole lot of complicated back end technology that is going on to facilitate this connection between aspiring artists and professionals. So it’s like hardcore tech stuff, but at the same time its music stuff. There aren’t a lot of African American companies in that space.
You hit nail right on the head. That’s why it was so important for Blazetrak to be at SXSW for both the tech side and the music side is important to make sure that we’re up to speed on all the new technologies and be more efficient and see what things we can do differently that will help our customer base. In the future we’re looking to get into offline activities like maybe concerts and events. But right now we’re focused on making our digital presence as successful as possible.
Learn more about Blazetrak at: http://www.blazetrak.com/